I have spoken with so many aspiring writers who tell me they dream of becoming a best seller and having a Hollywood movie made about their book. (The Rock hasn’t responded to any of my emails about the movie version of my book.)
If you aren’t doing at least a few of the things on this list then you’re probably not taking the idea of becoming a published author very seriously.
“But Lloyd, I don’t have time to write!” Well shit mate, make time! It’s not that you don’t have the time, it’s that you’re not prioritizing writing. I’ve watched The Office 689 times so I know a thing or two about wasting time.
It’s bloody hard work being a writer! The best authors don’t just hand in manuscripts and rely on their god-given talents. They sweat and they stress and they spend months, sometimes years analyzing every word in their book until they think it’s ready.
1. Set up a place to write -
You need to have a spot that is solely your writing spot. To quote Shaunta Grimes, “You need a place where your brain instantly knows it’s writing time.” You’ll find that as you sit down at your writing desk your mind will focus and you’ll be ready to go. I write best at coffee shops, mostly because my apartment is tiny so my options are 1. In front of the TV or 2. In front of the fridge. Both options are far too distracting for a lazy glutton such as myself. When I walk into a coffee shop and order my tea, (#teamasterrace), then I know it’s my time to get shit done.
2. Treat Writing Like Its Your Job
If you truly have aspirations of being a full-time writer, then you need to treat it like a job long before that’s even close to being a reality. You need to set time to get your writing done and you need to prioritize that time. That’s your writing time. You should also invest in your writing. A few things I’ve done are attending creative writing classes (Coursera is amazing), building an author website to display my work and paying professional editors to review my work.
3. Call Yourself A Writer
Do you write stories? Poetry? Novels? Fan-fic? Well shit, you’re a writer! There will people who make snarky comments, people who judge you, people who ask how many times you’ve been published. Fuck those people. You’re a writer. Be proud of your art.
4. Learn From The Writing You See Everyday
Most aspiring writers will read books in their chosen genre. Which is awesome! Keep doing that. But today we’re surrounded by writing. Sara Crawford says “TV shows, films, even e-mails and social media updates can teach you something about writing.” If you enjoy something figure out why you enjoyed it and apply it to your writing. If you hated something then figure out why that is.
5. Read, Read, Read, Read, Read and then you guessed it, Read.
I know I just told you to look to other places for writing examples. But that doesn’t mean you should ignore books. If you want to be a fantasy writer, then read fantasy. Find the absolute best authors you can and study them, read the book like you’d read an essay. How are they framing the scene? How do they drop hints of twists? How are characters introduce and developed? There are so many talented writers so you’ll never run out of resources. (Also read bad books, not only will you learn what not to do but you can think, “damn, if this joker has a published book then I’m a shoe-in!”)
6. Don’t Be Afraid Of Criticism or Rejection
There are people out there in the world who can’t wait to tear your work apart. Let them, let it be water off a duck’s back!
While you may receive criticism that is unfounded or unfair, you should always listen to it. It’s how you become a better writer! If 200 people tell you that your action scenes are boring, they might be boring. So, change them! It can be hard not to let the bad news get to you. You might get 500 rejections, but it only takes 1 acceptance letter to turn it all around. 12 people rejected Harry Potter, a franchise that is now worth $25 billion. You only need one person to believe in you, even if that one person is you.
7. Exercise your writing muscles in different ways
Reading and writing are the most obvious ways to improve your writing and your vocabulary. But sometimes our brain gets bored of seeing the same thing. Try something different, as Karen Ball says “Stretch your word muscles!” Eminem literally just reads the dictionary to learn new words. That’s pretty dramatic, but maybe try a crossword puzzle, or write some flash-fiction. (Some awesome prompts here.)
8 Just Fuckin’ Write!!
This is the best advice a writer could ever receive. Just write! Write something, anything! Just type a sentence, then add another sentence, then delete both sentences, swear loudly and type some more. Eventually something good will appear. Maybe even something great!
If you have some tips that have worked for you please comment them below!
The Writing Community is close knit and we’re always trying to learn from each other.
Follow Lloyd on Social Media!